It was the summer of 1991. I had just moved into a five-bedroom (six, if you count the basement) house on the outskirts of Ohio State University.
In less than a month, we were all planning on starting our sophomore year at the school.
In need of money, I scoured the campus area in search of a job. I filled out applications everywhere. Gyro shops. Pizza places. Stores. Malls. I even filled out an application at a chinese restaurant.
I must have filled out more than 100 applications in a three-day period. No lie.
The days continued to roll by. And the phone continued to not ring. I was running out of options. And money. I needed to find some sort of employment. Somewhere. Anywhere.
While attending a party, I overheard this pretty brunette talking to a group of girls about her job. As it turned out, she was a cashier at Kroger on East 7th Avenue and High Streets. In fact, three of the four girls at the party were cashiers at that particular Kroger.
And, I should mention that they were all pretty freaking hot.
"Are they hiring?" I asked half-jokingly. To be honest, I had driven by this particular Kroger numerous times. And to be honest, it wasn't on my top 100 places to work in Columbus if you know what I'm saying.
"As a matter of fact they are," she beamed. "You should totally go down there tomorrow and fill out an application. They'll hire you in a second."
Not sure if she was hitting on me or not. But I was flattered to say the least. As the night wore on and the more buzzed up I had become, I thought to myself. "Hey, if these hot ladies aren't afraid to work there, than why should I be afraid?"
In the distance, however, I heard a quiet whisper breeze through the wind. "Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid," it said.
The next morning, I checked the answering machine one last time. No messages. I conceded defeat. Reluctantly, I hopped into my Chevy Spectrum and drove down to the East 7th and High Kroger and begrudgingly filled out an application.
"Thanks," one of the manager's said scanning over my application. "If we need you, we'll give you a call."
Not even before I could get in the door and crack open my 40-ounce of Mickey's Malt Liqour, I recieved a message on my answering machine from Kroger. Less than one hour after I filled out the application.
They wanted me to come in for an interview.
"This is how desperate they are for workers?" I thought. "What am I getting myself into?"
I went in for an interview and before you could say "Paper or Plastic" I was hired as a bagboy/cart getter.
In a recent entry, I compared the difference between Walmart and Target. Well, let me just say that the people who frequented this particular establishment were not even close to those shoppers. They were some crazy wack jobs. In addition to an out-patient mental facility right next door, the Kroger on East 7th and High Street attracted some rather odd nuts.
To add to that, it wasn't exactly located in the most poshest of Columbus locales. In fact, it could be argued that, at the time, this particular location between campus and the Short North was one of the heaviest crime-ridden places in Columbus save Main Street and the West Side. I mean, it's never a good sign when, on more than one occasion, a dead body is found behind the store you're working for.
And to set the record straight, the nutjobs came in all sizes, shapes and colors. White, black, fat, skinny, asian, mexican, european and possibly a couple extra-terrestrials extras from the film Men in Black thrown in.
On my first day of work, I was bagging groceries when a guy with with a white kitchen apron splattered with blood came down my line.
"So, how do you like it here?" he asked with a sarcastic smile on his face. I quickly noticed the guy's Kroger nametag. Bruce. He was one of the company's prized meatcutters.
"It's okay," I shrugged as I looked around. "Seems pretty interesting."
He let out a quick laugh.
"Ohh, it's interesting all right."
All of a sudden, we heard sounds of a struggle in the frozen food aisle.
This white dude with wife-beater shirt and an extra pair of baggy gray sweatpants hurdled out of the aisle and hightailed it towards the exit doors. All the while holding onto his sweatpants to keep them from falling down.
"Hey! Stop, right there!" a police officer came from the aisle and was closing in on the man.
The sweatpants guy was almost out of the store before a store manager lunged in the air and football tackled him.
Freshly wrapped Steaks, filets and lobsters exploded in the air around him.
The cop hopped onto the guy, rammed a hard knee into the guy's back, latched on a pair of handcuffs and dragged him to the back room. Straightening his tie and fixing his mussed-up hair, the store manager followed behind with an angry grimace on his face.
And, just like that, everyone went back to work without missing a beat.
The only look of shock on anyone's face was my own.
The meatcutter noticed the look on my face and started to laugh.
"Welcome to Ghetto Kroger," he said as patted me on the back. "Never a dull moment here."
He was right.
The next year-and-a-half was filled with some craziest experiences I've ever had at any job in my entire life. Ever.
Some of those hard-to-believe stories I'll share with you from time-to-time on Eimer Debris.
Hopefully my good friend and partner in crime at the store can back me up on some of these stories.
Believe It or Not!